Mexican fast food chain Qdoba called out Chipotle Mexican Grill on Tuesday, mocking the fast casual burrito chain for its "Free Guac Day" promotion before delivering truckloads of avocados to a number of Chipotle restaurants in Denver, Colorado.
On National Avocado Day, Chipotle offered up free guacamole to customers that purchased an entree on the company's website or mobile app.
Rival Qdoba used the day as an opportunity to point out that it always offers free guacamole to customers when they purchase an entree.
The competition took to Twitter starting in late July to mock Chipotle's promotion, saying that guac should always be free. Qdoba took that sentiment a step further on Tuesday, shipping large crates of avocados to several Chipotle stores near its headquarters in Denver. Qdoba is also based there.
Accompanying the avocados were large orange signs that said, "Hey Chipotle! Heard you are giving away free guac with an entree today! From the people who have been doing that for a while now, we worry you have underestimated what it takes. Happy smashing!"
It's unclear if Chipotle used any of the avocados or will respond to Qdoba's stunt. Laurie Schalow, a spokeswoman for Chipotle, declined to comment.
Chipotle said it used almost 700,000 avocados to meet consumer demand, 200,000 more than an average day. The promotion was ill-timed. National Avocado Day fell on Tuesday fell as news broke that Ohio health officials were investigating a possible foodborne illness outbreak stemming from one of its restaurants there.
Chipotle extended their free guacamole promotion through Wednesday after technical issues with its online ordering services on Tuesday prevented customers from getting their free guac.
Even so, the promotion drove digital sales up nearly 60 percent and generated more app downloads than any other single day, Chipotle said.
"We believe the free guacamole promotion that Chipotle ran yesterday should help offset some of the negative publicity the company received following the Ohio food safety incident," Peter Saleh, analyst at BTIG, wrote in a research note Wednesday. "While we don't want to minimize food safety incidents given Chipotle's recent history, we believe the sales impact from these events is moderating."
Last week, Chipotle said that digital sales account for 10.3 percent of total sale and that, on average, online orders are $16 to $17 while in-restaurant checks average around $12.